November 19, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how something unexpected can have a far-reaching impact on people’s health and well-being. For older adults and their loved ones, this highlights the importance of having a plan for emergencies as well as typical situations that come along with aging.

The HHS Aging Services Coordination Office recognizes it can be difficult for family members and friends to talk with the older adults in their lives about the future and sensitive decisions to be made. In 2018 the ASC office developed the Texas Talks campaign to help ease into these important topics.

Texas Talks covers a range of conversation topics that impact older adults, such as housing, transportation, medical issues, recreation, behavioral health and caregiving. ASC recommends these conversations happen year-round and releases new topics during the fall to coincide with holiday gatherings.

“Identifying the issues to cover can be one of the hardest elements as there are so many important aging topics we should be talking to our loved ones about,” said Holly Riley, ASC manager. “In the beginning, we went with topics that were not as challenging. You don’t want to encourage a never-been-held-before discussion to start with end-of-life issues. However, that is one of the most critically important topics to talk about, and with COVID-19, this year we felt it was a good time to begin with that.”

This year’s topics are:

  • Advance care planning
  • Maintaining traditions
  • Mental health
  • Preventing fraud

Each worksite or organization that wants to participate in Texas Talks will receive a toolkit consisting of a communications strategy for engaging conversations through emails, articles and general guidance. To improve the program and gather feedback, a survey is sent to the participants in January. This year, to further enhance engagement among family members, the program is providing worksheets encouraging activities to help navigate these conversations.

“Feedback has been very positive since we started Texas Talks,” Riley said. “Worksite participation grew in the first two years with key reasons being the timeliness and relevance of the campaign as well as the ease of implementation. We work with aging experts, stakeholders and providers so we are able to hear what issues they are working on. We do a lot of research and most importantly, we listen to what communities are telling us — that really guides our focus and ensures we are addressing topics that are relevant.”

To learn more and read about previous topics, visit the Texas Talks webpage.

For questions, call 800-889-8595 or email Texas Talks.